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Monday, July 17, 2017

Nan Goldin

The work of Nan Goldin.
Next to national recognition and perhaps some degree of excess wealth from ones work, there's nothing most artists crave more than do be deemed influential. Whether it's influence over social thinking or merely influential as to the thinking of other artists, we like to think that our body of work can and will, somehow makes a difference. Although we enjoy the name recognition and the abundant sales figures which usually accompany some degree of fame, regardless of their media artists welcome the idea that they can change or direct the thinking of others. Today, the plethora of social media and the sophistication of film and video make achieving such a goal both easier and, ironically, more difficult. It's easier because of the effectiveness and ready availability as to the tools needed, but at the same time, the virtually unlimited freedom of expression requires some degree of self-restraint and a high degree of technical prowess along with no small amount of thematic depth. Add to that the need for newness as to words, thoughts, and deeds, and the "unlimited freedom of expression" becomes as much a burden as a gift.
 
Nan Goldin from her Conception series.
There are dozens of artists today who enjoy the designation as being influential. Whether it's television, motion pictures, or digital photography (with or without Photoshop), it's interesting that virtually none of the world's most influential artists are painters. Some might argue with that, but any list of highly influential painters living and working today would be amazingly short, not to mention quite problematical. That's not the case with photographers. Along with Annie Leibovitz, Cindy Sherman, Kathryn Bigelow, and Sally Mann, Nan Goldin would be at or near the top of any list of the most influential women artists today.
 
The two faces of Nan Goldin
Nancy Goldin was born in Washington, D.C., in 1953. She grew up in the Boston suburb of Lexington, in a middle-class Jewish family. Goldin’s father worked in broadcasting. She graduated from high school at the age of fourteen then promptly left home in a rebellious effort to distance herself from her mother. A short time later, Nan's sister, who was only eleven at the time, committed suicide. Struggling from such a horrific loss, Goldin began using drugs to try and cope. She enrolled at the Satya Community School in Lincoln, Massachusetts where a teacher, introduced her to the camera in 1968. Goldin was, by then, fifteen years old.
 
Nan Goldin's early work, during the 1980s and after served
to help bring the HIV/AIDS epidemic to national prominence.


David H. Looking Down,
Nan Goldin
Nan Goldin found meaning in her life through her camera and the cherished relationships with those she photographed. She also found the camera to be a useful political tool, in order to inform the public about important issues silenced in America. Goldin is a photographer best-known for her work featuring LGBT-related themes. She has been heavily in-fluenced by such artists as Andy Warhol, Federico Fellini, and Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin, Diane Arbus, Larry Clark, and August Sander. Nan Goldin became famous in the 1990s with a slideshow called "The Ballad of Sexual Dependency." Her pictures involve a circle of friends from the New York drug and drag queen scene to which the artist herself belonged. She documented an intimate sub-culture of moments in the bathroom, in bed, in the shower, having sex, and drug use. Goldin’s photographs oscillate between tender, fragile dreams of happiness, and existential gulfs. Nan Goldin is a survivor, but more than that, her visual journal, despite its dark atmosphere, is a tribute to the basic human need to survive.
 
Nan Goldin's photo series were often a matter of life and death.

































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